A Hikoi of Leadership

Image courtesy of wahine toa and artist Robyn Kahukiwa who skillfully captures the pulse of our people.

“I wish we didn’t have to do this again!”

 This thought heavied my heart as I joined the hikoi at the bottom

Wahine, kuia, kotiro - leading the way.

of Queen Street last Wednesday. Adding my waewae to this Auckland City leg was my small gesture of tautoko for those of us dissatisfied with the proposed Takutai Moana legislation. As I hit that pavement something stirred within me. I felt myself reaching for the megaphone to release that energy and wairua. Notions of Iwi and Hapū as kaitiaki; responsibility for whenua and moana; valuing our traditions and knowledge for Aotearoa and all its peoples; Indigenous rights emanating from Whakapapa and Atua and not from legislation; Tino Rangatiratanga. These were the kupu that found their inner city outlet that day, birthed by the rumbling within my puku.

 That same night at Manurewa marae was about whanaungatanga. Beautiful things happened in the kōrero. Such an environment of political angst inevitably gives rise to any number of issues. But what will stay with me forever from that night is the leadership and courage shown by everyone on this hikoi. In the face of adversity and even ridicule from our own, our hikoi rōpū is courageous, committed, wise, intelligent, strategic, humble and dignified. From the tamariki who proudly stood to speak in te reo and lead waiata tautoko for our kaikōrero, to the kuia who lead the charge up the front and then role modeled collective nurture of all the babies around us, to our kaiāwhina moving our rōpū safely from one place to the next, to our young men who when they aren’t organising and mobilising people are in the kitchen early to cook everyone’s breakfast, to our kaumātua who step up and pull us together that night to ensure the hikoi continues with dignity intact.

I came away from the hikoi feeling both sad and proud, but with the answer to my internal raruraru confirmed. Yes it is absolutely essential that we do this hikoi again! For too long we have had to be satisfied with hearing that “this is as good as it will get”. It is right that many of us are not willing to accept this. The gains made in Māoridom have always come from a movement that maintained a strong vision of identity and justice. We can look to our pakeke gone before us to affirm how passionate and uncompromising they always were. I am proud of us for keeping our voices loud.

 My pragmatic consciousness is sharply aware that according to the Māori Party, this Bill is the best practical solution that they can muster up right now. But those of us marching, and the many more who made submissions, feel too sorely about this compromise. That particular path of pragmatism is what makes this hikoi even more important. When Māori don’t feel that there is a voice resolute enough, then we must maintain the karanga some other way.

 Whether it was 10 people or 50 000 – I stood there with my tūpuna firmly behind me and the wairua ever present. If there is any embarrassment here, it is that I failed to commit to the whole nine days.

 Nō reira, kore tēnei Pire I tutuki ngā tino wawata o ōku tūpuna. He mihi aroha ki a koutou ngā wāhine, ngā tāne, ngā mokopuna, ngā koro, ngā kuia, nga rangatahi, nga taiohi – koutou katoa kua mirimiri I te tuarā a Papatūānuku!

 Marama Davidson (Ngāpuhi/Te Rarawa/Ngāti Porou)